Many scientific applications have intense computational and I/O requirements. Although multiprocessors have permitted astounding increases in computational performance, the formidable I/O needs of these applications cannot be met by current multiprocessors a their I/O subsystems. To prevent I/O subsystems from forever bottlenecking multiprocessors and limiting the range of feasible applications, new I/O subsystems must be designed. The successful design of computer systems (both hardware and software) depends on a thorough understanding of their intended use. A system designer optimizes the policies and mechanisms for the cases expected to most common in the user's workload. In the case of multiprocessor file systems, however, designers have been forced to build file systems based only on speculation about how they would be used, extrapolating from file-system characterizations of general-purpose workloads on uniprocessor and distributed systems or scientific workloads on vector supercomputers (see sidebar on related work). To help these system designers, in June 1993 we began the Charisma Project, so named because the project sought to characterize 1/0 in scientific multiprocessor applications from a variety of production parallel computing platforms and sites. The Charisma project is unique in recording individual read and write requests-in live, multiprogramming, parallel workloads (rather than from selected or nonparallel applications). In this article, we present the first results from the project: a characterization of the file-system workload an iPSC/860 multiprocessor running production, parallel scientific applications at NASA's Ames Research Center.